What Is FPGA and Why Is It Used?

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In the constantly evolving world of engineering and tech, there are a wide range of tools, technologies, and devices that help engineers perform their work. One such technology that is gaining a lot of traction lately is the FPGA. FPGA is an acronym referring to a field-programmable gate array, or integrated circuit, which offers a variety of uses. FPGA engineers can use FPGAs to create a wide range of designs with an even wider range when it comes to how these circuits are applied. Here’s a brief rundown of how FPGAs are being used and what their benefits are.

Microcontrollers and other circuits used to be the standard in engineering; however, advancements in technology have allowed for circuits like FPGAs to take the crown when it comes to integrated semiconductors. Keep in mind that application-specific circuits only have narrow functionality, meaning that they must be manufactured and used on a case by case basis. Being able to have a flexible circuit which can be reprogrammed for completely different applications is far superior for many industries, especially as other technologies grow and evolve. While an FPGA may be more costly at the onset, when you consider the amount of money saved on multiple microprocessing circuits over the lifespan of a company, not to mention the redundancy of needing separate circuits, an FPGA quickly makes up for the higher initial cost.

Another strength of FPGAs is their speed. FPGAs have multiple microprocessors which work in tandem at the same time, making them far better suited for performing parallel tasks simultaneously. This is far better than traditional microprocessors which need to be spread across multiple devices in order to perform as well. Another factor to keep in mind about FPGAs is that, unlike other microprocessors, they are also better at handling signal processing or complex tasks with large images. This makes FPGAs a stronger choice for businesses that need to harness advanced graphical processing since it can cut down on processing time.

FPGAs can be used in a myriad of engineering fields, including consumer applications, industrial use, medicine, and aerospace technology. While FPGAs offer a great amount of flexibility due to their unique programmable nature, there are several tasks that are more likely to be used than others when it comes to the way engineers employ these types of circuits. For example, system maintenance is often governed in some way by FPGAs, whether that’s the day-to-day monitoring of a system’s performance or tools that actually control the system itself. In the field of aerospace and aviation, FPGAs may be used for all manner of things, including defense systems, communications tools, and other forms of security. That being said, the flexibility offered by FPGAs make them an ideal solution for industries in all kinds of verticals.  Whether you’re using FPGAs for high frequency trading or networking solutions, there are plenty of options to consider with these types of circuits.

FPGA programming and design is necessary if you want to get the most out of your FPGA. Without some program development, your circuit is just a piece of hardware, rather than the powerful and highly useful processor it is designed to be. Hiring and retaining FPGA engineers is a good way to be able to continue using your FPGAs in new ways, as otherwise you would need to learn the programming language Verilog HDL in order to “talk” to these devices. Thanks to their high speeds, value, and versatility, FPGAs are quickly becoming the norm in areas that used to rely on microprocessors with fixed functions and applications. FPGAs are changing the way business function, from fields as diverse as finance, industry, and video processing.